Manila Bulletin

Mighty takes on Dubai’s No. 1 in opener

- Hasheem Thabeet will lead Mighty Sports against Dubai's top team. By REY C. LACHICA

Game To­mor­row (Al-Ahli gym, Dubai) 9 p.m. – Mighty Sports-PH vs Al-Ahli

Mighty Sports-Philip­pines has no prob­lem with tal­ent but whether it is enough for the team to win an­other in­ter­na­tional glory will be known when it faces host Al Ahli right in the open­ing day of the Dubai In­ter­na­tional Bas­ket­ball Tour­na­ment to­mor­row at Dubai’s premier sport­ing club.

Mighty Sports coach Charles Tiu said go­ing up against the host squad is some­thing he wants to avoid first, but his play­ers, es­pe­cially NBA vet­er­ans Hasheem Thabeet, Do­minic McGuire and Justin Brown­lee, are ea­ger to test the waters.

De­spite their im­pres­sive re­sume, Tiu cau­tioned his play­ers against com­pla­cency since Al Ahli is the cur­rent No. 1 team of Dubai with a per­fect 10-0 record.

“Al Ahli is a tough team, No. 1 in their lo­cal tour­na­ment,” said the for­mer Gi­las as­sis­tant coach. “They are led by for­mer NBA play­ers in Sam Young and Chiekh Samb. Plus they are the home team so it should be a big chal­lenge.”

An­other chal­lenge for the team, ac­cord­ing to Tiu, is co­he­sion since the team is yet to prac­tice in full force.

Still, Tiu is con­vinced they can give the op­po­si­tion a good fight, and hope­fully du­pli­cate their smash­ing 8-game sweep of the Jones Cup in Tai­wan last yeat.

“Hope­fully, the mix of hav­ing some vet­er­ans and smart play­ers will help our co­he­sion,” said Tiu.

The team backed by Rain or Shine and Scratch It leaves early to­day for the cap­i­tal city of the Emi­rate of Dubai, and Tiu hopes they can get one good prac­tice be­fore col­lid­ing with a team back­stopped by two NBA vet­er­ans in 7-foot-1 Sene­galese Cheikh Samb and 6-foot-6 Sam Young.

Af­ter Al Ahli, Mighty Sports col­lides with Libya the fol­low­ing day, takes a break on the 19th then meet the taller and heftier Le­banese squad on Mon­day and ends up its elims against a rugged Moroc­can squad on Tues­day.

“Chem­istry is some­thing we are still work­ing on. We will have one com­plete prac­tice be­fore the tour­na­ment,” he added.

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